TEHRAN — Rescue workers used helicopters to access remote areas in northwestern Iran hit by twin earthquakes, and while the official death toll was Sunday lowered to 227, tens of thousands remained homeless and many had little or no medical care.
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, who confirmed the death toll, said more than 1,380 people were injured. Najar, who traveled to the disaster area, said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had ordered a special budget for reconstruction.
The quakes struck within 11 minutes of each other on Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and officials said the towns of Ahar and Varzaqan were the worst hit.
Aftershocks have rocked the region since, and residents of several villages near Varzaqan said many people were still missing and believed to be under the debris.
The affected areas have few medical facilities, and many of the injured being transferred to hospitals in the closest cities died en route.